The sudden repeal of some laws in Bauchi State especially the State Public Property and Funds Recovery Tribunal of 2017, in the twilight of the present administration is causing ripples in the state.
Even before the passing of the two controversial and other Bills by the Bauchi State House of Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had raised alarm several times accusing Governor Mohammed Abubakar of setting Booby traps for the incoming Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed.
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Immediately after Governor Abubakar received the report of a committee he set up to review the dissolved districts, village areas and hamlets, the spokesperson to the Governor-elect, Dr. Ladan Salihu in a statement raised alarm saying the move was to re-install the over 2,000 traditional leaders the governor earlier dissolved.
Dr. Salihu alleged that re-instating them will place an extra burden on the incoming administration and pitched it against the traditional institution and the alleged the Governor had also secretly employed thousands of workers into the state civil service.
These fears among others by the incoming PDP administration are far-fetched as the state House of Assembly has hastily passed three
Bills last Wednesday. They are a law to repeal the State Public Property and Funds Recovery Tribunal of 2017, a law to create additional districts, village areas and hamlets and that to prohibit blockage of highways and other major streets within Bauchi metropolis.
However, the Bills for the repeal of Public Assets Recovery and the creation of additional districts and village areas have generated much controversy as they are seen as targeted at the incoming administration.
The Public Asset Recovery law was initiated by Governor Abubakar to recover public properties from officials and associates of his predecessor, Mallam Isah Yuguda through the Tijjani Baba Gamawa-led committee.
Even in the House of Assembly, there were opposing views on the bills.
While opening deliberation on them, the Speaker, Kawuwa Damina sought the understanding over the new law and assured they would monitor its implementation to ensure effectiveness.
However, Member representing Lere/Bula Constituency, Aminu Tukur alleged that the bill was passed with a sinister motive.
He alleged 13 out of the 31 members including the speaker “secretly” converged in the house at an unusual time and hatched the plan on the bills.
“The law was put in place to serve as deterrent to whoever misappropriates the funds of the citizens. Since, he the governor failed to secure his second term in office connived with the cronies to the assembly.
The Deputy Speaker, Abdulmumini Bala Fanti also accused the Speaker and other Governor Abubakar loyalists at the assembly as behind the
speedy passage of the Bill to repeal the anti-graft law.
However, the government has kept mute over the issue since the passage of the controversial Bill.
A Bauchi-based women group, Bauchi State Women Coalition of for Sustainable Peace and Viable Democratic Gains, threatened to initiate a recall process of lawmakers over the bill to repeal the law on public assets recovery.
The group led by Hajiya Addaji Mohammed condemned the passing of the two bills barring probing and recovering public properties and funds from suspected corrupt public office holders and that for the creation of district, villages and hamlets’ heads.
According to the group, the outgoing governor seized what he called looted government properties from aides and officials that served former Governor Isah Yuguda but he doesn’t want the law to try him after he leaves office.
“The action of the 13 lawmakers contradicts section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which states that ‘the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Such action undermines democratic process,” she explained.
Some Civil Society Organisations in Bauchi under the auspices of Bauchi State Network of Civil Society (BASNEC) in a statement by its Secretary-General, Comrade Sadiq Sadiq, said it was disappointing for the lawmakers to pass the bill in order to repeal the anti-corruption law enacted in 2017.
“Such bills are against the interest of the citizens as it will not allow good governance to be in place. Our stance in condemning the latest bill to repeal the existing law is because it has been of great benefit to Bauchi State citizens through prudence management of public property and funds,” BASNEC stated.
Many people and groups have expressed resentment over the passage of the Bill to repeal the Public Assets Recovery Tribunal which empowers the outgoing government to carry out series of investigations and confiscate assets by the Gamawa-led recovery committee.
Another committee was also set up which claimed to have discovered monies lodged by former governor Mallam Yuguda in various commercial banks.
However, the Governor-elect has promised to reverse any policy that will not augur well for the state and its people.
Sources at the House of Assembly informed that the bills have already been forwarded to Governor Abubakar for assent as it is the normal procedure.
Presently, most of the lawmakers have already left for the lesser Hajj (Umrah) with only few days to the inauguration of Governor-elect, Senator Mohammed and what happens regarding in the coming days remained to be seen.
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